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Gaming History You Should Know – The NES Loading Seam October 15, 2017

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If you’re like me, you grew up playing the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and it’s incredible library of games.  My favorite game to play on that system was Super Mario Bros 3, a phenomenal side scroller with easy to learn controls and challenging levels.

However, if you play Super Mario Bros 3 on a modern TV, you may notice a weird glitched frame on the side of the screen. The first time I saw it I was concerned my tv or my game console was broken, but I quickly learned it was actually an integral part of the game, and eventually I learned to ignore it.

I’m sure many of you are curious what this seam is, and why it appears in a game like SMB3. Well, the great guys over at Retro Game Mechanics Explained did a great video about the phenomenon, and explain in great detail what this seam is and why it is appears in so many NES games.

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Gaming History You Should Know – POLYBUS October 1, 2017

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We are back with another Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight and feature some of the best content on the web detailing the history of gaming.

A few years ago, information about a previously unknown arcade game from the 80s called POLYBUS surfaced.  It has since become an urban legend, as stories spread about the game’s possible side effects. Many claimed the game induced everything from seizures and depression to death.

However, despite the game’s infamy, nobody has been able to conclusively probe the game actually existed. To this day no one has been able to find a prototype cabinet or game ROM, although a few fan versions of the game have been published over the years.

Stewart Brown over at the YouTube Channel AHOY did a fantastic documentary about the history of this game and the impact it has had on gaming culture. In fact, it’s so well done, I believe it is on par with any documentary that’s been recently produced by a modern television network.  Is POLYBUS real?  Watch and find out.

So what are your thoughts on POLYBUS?  Post a comment below with what you think about it.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Making of Superman 64 September 24, 2017

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It’s Sunday!  Welcome back to an all new Gaming History You Should Know, where we feature some of the best content from across the internet focused on the history of gaming and we’ve got a great one for you today!

Everyone knows the story of Superman.  Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, Superman is the story of the ultimate hero. An alien immigrant from a destroyed homeworld who grows up on Earth with traditional American ideals. After he becomes an adult, he uses his unique physicality to help him perform heroic acts and strives to set an example all his own.

However, Superman’s enormous strength can ironically be his greatest weakness from a storytelling perspective.  He is inhumanly strong, has the ability to fly, invulnerablity, super speed, heat vision, and breath as strong as a hurricane.  He’s just too powerful, and playing as him in a video game could be boring to a player. Back in the day, a company called Titus were huge fans of the KidsWB show Superman: The Animated Series, and obtained the license to produce a Superman game in that style for the Nintendo 64. It would go down in history as one of the worst games ever made.

How could a game with so much promise be such a disappointment?  Was it a problem at Titus or were other factors at fault?  The YouTube Channel Wrestling with Gaming took a long, deep look at the development of the game.  He did his research on this one, digging deep into old interviews with the principle developers. It’s well edited, well written, and really worth a watch!

Hope you all enjoyed the video as much as I did!  I would like to give an extra special thanks to Yahel over at Wrestling with Gaming for letting me feature them!  If you haven’t checked out their YouTube channel, you totally should. Their documentary on the history of the Phillips CD-i is also great!

Gaming History You Should Know – The Sony PocketStation September 3, 2017

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When the Nintendo Switch was first released, it only offered its players an internal storage solution for their games and save files.  Nintendo it seemed had no way to offer their customers the chance to bring their save files onto another Switch console.  Many people recommended to Nintendo they should expand the Switch’s operating system to allow players to copy their save files onto SD cards.  This concept of being able to copy your game files onto external memory for the purpose of using them on another console is being called revolutionary. 

I don’t currently own a Nintendo Switch so I can’t comment if this functionality has been added at the time this editorial was published, but if Nintendo does implement it, they will only be continuing with a long standing tradition in console functionality.  Would you be surprised if I told you that Sony had offered the ability for their players to save all their game data to a proprietary memory device which would work on every PlayStation console?  You aren’t?  Well, what if I told you Sony later enhanced those memory cards to offer more than just game storage, but they could serve as a rudimentary interactive digital device. I’m talking of course about the Sony PocketStation.

When it comes to gaming, storage is a problem, and when console games started shipping out on read-only optical media, storage became a big problem.  Before the days of internal hard drives and cloud syncing your save files, users would need to buy proprietary memory cards for game data storage.  In more recent years, most consumers have decided upon a specific standard of external memory storage, the SD Card, and newer mobile devices have been engineered to support that format. However in the 90s, if you wanted to keep a record of your game you needed to buy a proprietary memory card.

As the PS1 started to begin its decline in anticipation for the impending release of the the PS2, Sony did a little experiment. Devices like the Tamagotchi had a major success in the mid to late 90s.  A Tamagotchi was a small digital device that fit in your pocket featured a black and white screen and several interface buttons.  The objective of the game was to use them to keep and maintain a digital pet. They were pretty primitive by today’s standards but at the time they were cheap to manufacture and companies like Sony took notice about their success and capabilities.  In the late 90s Sony released a device called the PocketStation in Japan.

The display tech for the PocketStation was similar to a 90s era Tamagotchi or more recently a Pokéwalker. It could save your PS1 game data like a Memory Card, but when you weren’t using it as a memory device, it also functioned as a personal digital assistant capable of playing exclusive minigames. It didn’t need a PS1 to function, but you would need a PS1 and a compatible game to load and save minigames on it.

Without further ado, I’ll let the great guys over at CGR Undertow show off their unit!

The PocketStation was revolutionary for its time but it was too successful in Japan. Sony couldn’t meet their nation’s heavy demand for it post release and because of that they never had enough of a supply to release it in the US, even though US games like Final Fantasy VIII supported it.  Nothing like it was ever made for the PlayStation 2.  While the PocketStation had only a brief release period, it was clear that the concept behind it had a future as Sega created a similar device, the VMU, to be the standard Memory Card for the Dreamcast.

While the PS1 and the Pocketstation have long since been eclipsed by newer technologies, its legacy endures to this day. I have heard that the US Steam version of Final Fantasy VIII includes the PocketStation’s extended capabilities as a bonus feature.  I would seriously like to see these additions included if Sony ever decides to bring FFVIII to the PS4. I’ve also seen Japanese trailers for PS1 games on Vita promise that the Vita will offer full PocketStation support for legacy games.

Hope you enjoyed this look to the past to see just how far into the future we’ve really come. Don’t forget to take a look at Classicgameroom.com for more great classic PC and console game reviews.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Super Mario Adventures Comic Series July 30, 2017

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Apologies for not resuming our regular schedule of Gaming History You Should Know since we returned from E3 2017, but I’m happy to announce we have started a backlog of new articles to get released every Sunday for the next month!  So with that housekeeping out of the way, what do you say we take a look at today’s feature?

Back in the early 90s, Nintendo ruled the gaming world with an iron fist and almost everyone my age had a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The console’s mascot, a red overall-wearing plumber named Mario, became an international legend, but most attempts to put Mario into mediums outside of his games have been met with disappointment. Well, except for one, the Super Mario Adventures Comic.

Super Mario Adventures was a comic series printed in the pages of Nintendo Power Magazine.  It was written as a serial, continuing the story with a new part each month.  However, unlike Mario’s outrageous film adaptation, the Super Mario comic was written by a great group of people who not only loved the source material, they truly understood the characters they were writing.

I only read a few issues of Nintendo Power back in the very early 90s, and I’m sad to say I wasn’t familiar with the Super Mario Adventures comic series until a man named Doug Walker, the host of the Nostalgia Critic on Channel Awesome, did a fantastic video review of it. Without further ado, I’ll let him tell you all about it!

If you would like to take a closer look at the comic, the guys over at the YouTube Channel Tatoo Pedigree posted it online with a full voice over. The actors they chose to perform each part were perfectly cast and if you’ve read the original comic or not, I can’t recommend it enough!

If you liked the review and the motion comic, I’m happy to say that the entire series is back in print and you could buy a collected edition from retailers like NintendoNYC for a price of about $15 US.  I hope you all enjoyed this week’s Gaming History You Should Know.  We’ve got a lot more planned for release throughout August, please stay tuned!

Gaming History You Should Know – Popular Silent Hill Fan Theories Debunked July 9, 2017

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It’s Sunday and that means it is once again time for Gaming History You Should Know, where we look at some of the best gaming history content produced on the internet. What can I say about Silent Hill that hasn’t already been said?  It’s a beloved gaming franchise published by Konami that has, after several management missteps, fallen onto hard times.  Silent Hill‘s strength has always been its themes and how it defines horror.  Just like any well-written story, Silent Hill‘s content has left itself open to interpretation, and I know that fans have created their own theories about the games over the years.  Some of those fan theories have gone on to be accepted canon by the majority of Silent Hill fans, while other fan theories rely on concepts directly contradicted by in-game dialog or the game’s developers.

Dena Natali of the YouTube Channel Cyborcat runs one of my favorite channels on that entire website. She’s a long standing fan of the Silent Hill franchise and to this date has done several in-depth reviews and analysis of nearly every game in the franchise. I know I’ve featured her reviews in the past, but her videos are just so darn good I think her channel deserves another look.

Recently, Dena produced a video about her top five Silent Hill fan theories that are wrong. These theories have been spread across the web over the past few years, and she organized them by their level of personal frustration.  Its a great video my girlfriend and I enjoyed watching together and it is clear Dena really knows the history of Silent Hill. Enjoy!

Hope you all enjoyed the video as much as I did. In fact Dena’s videos have inspired me to take a closer look at Silent Hill, and that means we could produce some of our own Silent Hill related articles or videos in the future!  Be sure to stay tuned to this website or subscribe to stay up to date with all our latest content!

Gaming History You Should Know – The Game Boy Advance eReader July 2, 2017

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Welcome back, it’s time for an all-new Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best content that gives a look into gaming’s legacy.  Since the days of the Game Boy, Nintendo has always dominated the handheld market, and that legacy was cemented after Nintendo published the Pokémon games in the late 90s. While I stayed out of the gaming handheld market through most of my teen years, I became interested in the Game Boy Advance platform shortly after buying the Nintendo GameCube.

While I loved the GameCube I never got a GBA, but around the same time I was in the market for one Nintendo began to push a unique peripheral for the device, the Game Boy Advance eReader.  It used barcodes printed on the side of trading cards to read data and could offer games or game-related extras to GBA owners with the peripheral.

Josh Wittenkeller, who you all may know better as The Jwittz, is not only an incredible Pokémon fan, he is a Nintendo archivist.  His Pokémon Fact of the Day series is a YouTube staple, and I’ll constantly watch his videos to stay informed on Nintendo’s history.  In this video, he takes a look at the Nintendo eReader, explains what it did, how it worked, and highlights what were some of its best promotions. Give it a watch!

It’s sad that the GBA eReader wouldn’t have a very long lifespan. Part of the reason I didn’t get a GBA back in the day had to do with the fact that it lacked a backlit screen, and by the time a backlit revision of the GBA was released, The GBA SP, the eReader was discontinued. Sadly, its form factor became incompatible with the new hardware design, although I have heard it works fine with the GameCube’s GBA player.

I really regret missing out on this platform back in the day, it seems like a unique spin on contemporary technology. I feel that Pokémon was always the franchise that made the best creative use out of existing technology, and that legacy endures to this day with devices like the Pokémon Go Plus.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Halcyon Laserdisc Gaming Console June 26, 2017

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I know we are a day late but I want to welcome all of you back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we feature incredible content from across the web to educate our readers on gaming’s greatest true stories.  I know we had to take a few weeks off due to E3, but now we are back and we’ve got plans to release all new articles throughout the summer!

These days, voice recognition integration is quite common, as it is included in a wide range of electronic devices like the Amazon Echo, the iPhone or the Xbox One. We like to think of this feature as something that has only been possible within the last few years, but in reality creative programmers have been trying to bring it to the mass market for decades. One of the more unique attempts were looked into by YouTube Channel RetroGamerVX with his feature video about the voice controlled laserdisc game console the Halcyon.

During the 1980s, the laserdisc format was considered to be the gold standard for high end home theater systems. It not only offered superior picture and audio quality to VHS, it had the ability to seek out specific scenes or frames of a movie just like you could play a specific song in a CD.  The Halcyon was the brainchild of Rick Dyer, whose name you might remember if you’re a long-time follower of this site, since he worked on the laserdisc based arcade game Dragon’s Lair…which we are still trying to find a working cabinet to play.

I’ll let RetroGamerVX tell you the rest of the story.  The video includes some pretty rare footage of the machine in action and interviews with Rick Dyer. Enjoy!

Hope you all enjoyed the video, we plan to resume our schedule of featuring great content from across internet every week. Special thanks to RetroGamerVX for letting us feature him on the site!  If you haven’t checked out his YouTube channel yet, you should totally give it a look!

Gaming History You Should Know – Floppy Disks June 4, 2017

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It’s Sunday and that means its time for another Gaming History You Should Know. This time, we are going to get a little personal. I got into computers back in the early 90s and I can’t remember a time before PCs included floppy disks as a standard storage peripheral.  To the young me, those disks, which could allow people to take their data anywhere, had an almost magical quality. As I got older I discovered just how little data those disks could actually hold and the magic behind them eventually faded.

So how did floppy disks work?  I’ll let David Murray, who hosts a phenomenal YouTube Channel called The 8-Bit Guy, do what he does best and talk about it.  However, I would be neglectful if I didn’t also mention he did a full video on an earlier form of magnetic storage, cassette tapes.

With that bit of history out of the way, here is David’s video about floppy drives. If you ever wondered how a floppy drive worked, how many different form factors disks had over the years, or why disks had to be formatted in a certain way, watch this.

Die-hard Nintendo collectors will certainly remember that time Nintendo used disks as a storage medium for a product that was sadly only released in Japan.  While Nintendo Disks couldn’t store much more data than a traditional cartridge, disk games were cheaper, offered better sound, the ability to save, and could be rewritten. I’ll let Norman Caruso, who you know better as The Gaming Historian, tell you all about it.

Sadly this technology never made it to the US, because I would have loved to see those disk rewriter stations in my local Sears.  As for my own history with floppy disks, I kept a 3.5″ floppy drive installed in every PC I owned up until the release of Windows Vista SP1.  After that, I’ve only needed to use them while trying to replay older games.

Floppy Disks were a very useful technology in their heyday but they were eventually eclipsed by rewritable CDs, DVDs and now USB storage.  I don’t have a floppy drive in my PC anymore, but I keep a drive in storage just in case I need to use it again. While these newer storage mediums would offer superior storage and speed, it’s always good to look back at our roots.

Hope you’ve been enjoying our look back at Gaming History You Should Know, the closest thing we’ve ever had to a weekly series on this site.  Due to E3, there may not be a new article next week but there will always be great content to feature from across the web and we promise to bring it back to you once E3 ends!

Gaming History You Should Know – Death of Hellgate London May 28, 2017

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It’s Sunday, and that means it’s time for yet another Gaming History You Should Know. Let me tell you about the PC single-player title with an integrated MMO component, Hellgate London.

Hellgate London was a game with so much promise. It was a technological marvel developed by a team of industry veterans. It had a massive marketing campaign with a lot of hype leading up to release.  It had market crossover potential with novels, comic books and figurines ready in time for launch.  However, the game suffered from bad management and was also fated to get released at the wrong time.

By the time the game reached shelves there were already a slew of potential Game of the Year contenders sitting on the shelf next to it. The fact that it was such a buggy game at launch didn’t help much either.  That’s such a shame because this game had a lot of promise and I don’t regret buying it about a month after it launched.

YouTube Channel nerdSlayer chronicles the rise and fall of MMOs in his series Death of a Game.  This guy does an in-depth amount of research on the games he covers, and his videos feature a peek into some of the behind the scenes drama that goes into managing such an expensive genre.  Here’s his video on the death of Hellgate London:

Video games that use an online component can be discontinued at any time, and while Hellgate London has continued to remain playable, tons of other games aren’t as lucky.  This should go on to become a cautionary tale for game developers everywhere.

Special thanks to nerdSlayer for letting me feature his videos this week. If you want to hear more about the rise and fall of other MMOs like Star Wars Galaxies or Tabula Rasa, you can check out his great videos here!